Tagged: cats


Happy Birthday

Fifteen years ago, a lonely unwanted cat gave birth in a wood pile.  The days were warm and sunny, and she soon brought her 5 charges out to frolic in the fresh air.  She never allowed them to stray very far from her side because the world is a big scary place.

We began to notice them around 6 weeks of age.  Momma was smart and protective and would spirit them away if we got too close.

But we have a humane trap.

They were tiny, scared, and fierce.  There were two dark longhaired Maine Coon-ish ones.  One was the self-appointed leader and protector, hissing and biting; the other had huge eyes and ears and was sickly.  The only female was a cute orange calico.  The fourth was a shorthaired tiger who looked completely unrelated.

The fifth kitten was too wily for the trap.

We read about taming feral kittens, and then we went about the process. There was lots of cuddling and hissing.  It was the start of something big. Hundreds of kittens have passed through our home en route to loving homes of their own.  The feral colony is managed and thriving under a private trap/neuter/release program.

Sebastian, Noah, Arminta, and Bullwinkle J. Moose all turned 15 today. Happy birthday guys!

Letting go

Yesterday at work I broke my $1000 pen.

The backstory:

Two years ago when Jasmine was sick, we made multiple visits to the emergency vet.  These usually involved an overnight stay and a scary bill.  Each time I signed, I kept the pen.  It was my own small rebellion against her illness.

Over time I accumulated a collection of cheap plastic pens in an assortment of colors with the vet clinic’s phone number on them.  They came to be known around the house as my $1000 pens.

Most have disappeared into the depths of desk drawers, but the light blue one became special.  It complemented my uniform nicely, and it became my spare pen for work.  It has spent most of the past year in my shirt pocket or my day bag.  Yesterday I broke it.

My instinctive reaction was sadness.  This was Jazzy’s pen.

I quickly realized I was looking at things the wrong way.  These pens are a symbol of the darkest time in her too-short life.  Keeping them around doesn’t preserve her memory.  It preserves the memory of her tragic illness and death.  While I want to remember and cherish her, these are not the memories I need.

I disassembled the pen tonight.  I salvaged the spring to use as a strain reliever on my phone charging cord.  She always was good at relieving my stress.  As I find the others, I will do the same with them.  I may have spent the cost of a good used car acquiring them, but it is time to let them go.

Godspeed, sweet kitty

Twenty two years ago a small grey cat was born in Rhode Island. Her owners didn't want her; a neighborhood tom had snuck over the fence and done unspeakable things to their prize-winning Himalayan. They gave her to a college girl, who quickly discovered she was not ready for kittenhood. Overwhelmed, she threatened to put her outside to fend for herself.

My then-future wife has never been able to abide the suffering of any animal. She rescued the kitten from almost certain death, taking it in at the risk of angering her landlord. Shelby won my heart simply by being a grey tiger kitten; I won hers by ignoring her. Curiosity may not really kill cats, but it sure drives them nuts. (The landlord was won over with money. Not really a cat person I guess.)

I would love to say Shelby was a special cat. In our hearts she certainly was and remains. In reality she was probably pretty average. An amazing thing happened, though. She had an incredible ability to win people's hearts. Soon my parents adopted a cat, then my sister. Over the intervening years we have had 8 more cats, my sister 4, and my parents 5. All have been rescued in some form or other. Dad has even adopted his own small thriving feral colony.

Shelby was our matriarch. She left us in 2006 after a long yet too short life. The torch was passed to Muffy, my parents' first.

Muffy came to the family from the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society in December of 1998. She was a stray and a street tough. The shelter guessed she was 3 years old; the vet estimated closer to 5. It took a long time for her to accept affection, but eventually she became the tiger-striped head of her own five-cat colony. She ruled with an iron paw, earning the nickname Tuffy Muffy.

Fifteen years have come and gone, and Muffy has been the Energizer kitty. She has weathered health scares; she's slowed and mellowed with age; recently she's spent most of her time in a warm spot in the kitchen.

And I've watched her age, lately with a heavy heart. We knew this day was coming. This afternoon I scritched her one last time and got to wish her a safe journey. Tomorrow she goes over the Rainbow Bridge.

Farewell, Muff. It's always too soon, yet it's time. Shel, Chang, Jas, Rockey, and Millie will be waiting to greet you.

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Week 24 Results – Minolta 600si

I confess I was lazy this week, shooting mostly in full automatic mode with a bit of aperture priority when I was working with depth of field.

The 600si is a tank of a camera. I haven’t weighed it, but it just feels heavy in spite of its mostly plastic construction. Occasionally it would refuse to focus, but I chalked that up to the dodgy lens. Repeating the attempt always fixed the problem.

I shot a roll of Portra pushed two stops. I did this in order to shoot at the New York State Museum without a flash. It’s an incredible place. My primary attraction was the Fire Engine Hall, which contains the only known surviving Ahrens-Fox from New York City. It also showcases many of the major historic manufacturers who were headquartered in New York State.

The Fire Engine Hall is located next to Metropolis Hall. What would you expect where fire engines intersect with Metropolis?


It’s a shocking sight to the unsuspecting. This is not a model or a replica. Engine 6 was one of the first engines at the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. Seven members responded that morning; only three returned. I can stand in reverent silence here all day.

Around the corner on the edge of the Fire Engine Hall stands this memorial. Though lesser known and a late addition to the 9/11 exhibit, Ambulance 485 also suffered tragedy that day. Two paramedics responded, one returned. The ambulance survived in service although it still bears the scuffs and scars of that day.

In the Hall itself, this American LaFrance is a lost ancestor of the modern fire engine. The JO/JOX series were built immediately prior to WWII and showed the first steps between the classic styles of the 1930s and the more ergonomic designs of the 1950s. Production was interrupted by the war, and the more advanced 700 Series replaced them when production resumed in the late 1940s.

The Hall is difficult to shoot without a tripod. The walls and backgrounds are flat black. Even at 1600 ASA, shutter speeds were slow and depth of field short.


The museum is more than just fire engines. Make sure you see and ride the antique carousel upstairs.

For the end of the roll, we left the museum. This is Saffron, one of our current foster kitties. She and her two sisters are looking for the right Forever Home.

Lower Zone, a closeup from a demonstrator that visited the firehouse last week.

If you have the chance to pick up a Minolta 600si, I highly recommend it. If you are anywhere near Albany, take an hour or two at the museum. It’s free. You won’t regret it.



We promise to ease their suffering, and they give undying devotion in return. We feed them, shelter them, care for their health, and when the time comes we provide a merciful end.

It’s never as easy as it looks on paper.

When we lost Chang, I penned an eloquent and emotional post.

When Jasmine received her diagnosis, I cried out in pain.

We swore that she wouldn’t suffer. We would do all that was medically reasonable and enjoy the time we had left together, however short. The pills have been annoying, but she held up well. We still had fun together. Sunbeams, catnip mice, and moths have made the passing months wonderful.

Until this weekend. We watched her fail inexorably. We cuddled and comforted. I don’t have another eloquent post in me right now. We promised not to let her suffer.

Too short. She should've had another decade. She's the youngest of our colony and should have seen Beth graduate. The universe has cheated her and us, but we promise not to let them suffer. Rest easy, baby girl. There's no need to fight it anymore.


Jasmine left us peacefully around 11:00 this morning. Our hearts are heavy. . .

The week in review 2.9.13


Impulse Autofocus / Impossible PX680 CP

Retired - 020213

Automatic 250 / FP100c

Horizontal - 020313

Impulse Autofocus / Impossible PX680 CP

WOW! Closed - 020413

WOW! Closed.
Automatic 250 / FP100c
There’s just something about Salisbury Beach in the winter.


Knox Box
Spectra / PZ680
Hand-held long exposure


Spectra / PZ680
Here she is, the source of my angst this week, sporting a freshly shaved spot from her recent vet visit. Jazzy is hard to photograph; as soon as you point a camera at her she charges at you for attention.


Feed me!
Automatic 250 / FP100c / electronic flash

Zen blizzard - 020813

Zen blizzard
Automatic 250 / FP100c
The snow begins in the Zen Garden at Union Hospital


Automatic 250 / FP100c / Vivitar 91 flash
I spent the blizzard at the station. Guess what? It snowed.


It’s not supposed to be this way.  

I stand in the long glass hallway of Big City Trauma Center, back to the windows as a throng of humanity streams past.  

We knew her life might be shortened when we adopted.  Shortened however isn’t supposed to mean short. It’s not supposed to be this way.  

I hide behind my sunglasses and choke down my emotions as I send an email to order a tiny urn. I should call, but I can’t talk about it now.  It’s not supposed to be this way.  

My city is full of world class hospitals.  If your family member is small and furry, that’s OK too.  We have a kitty ICU, kitty cardiologists, and even kitty thoracic surgery if you want to go that far.   It’s still not supposed to be this way.  

We have a diagnosis, and the doctors are talking in terms of weeks.   It’s. Not. Supposed. To. Be. This. Way.  

We will make her as comfortable as we can and cherish our remaining time together.  I cannot imagine waking up without her little furry body nestled against my hip, or falling asleep without her sweet crossed eyes staring over my book.  We were supposed to have much longer. She deserves much longer. It’s not supposed to be this way.

I gather myself together, rein in my emotions, and head back to work, safe behind my dark lenses for now.  As long as that damn harpist doesn’t show up I’ll be fine.

Impossible 365 – 010213

The elusive Noah

Polaroid Automatic Land Camera 250, Fuji FP100c, Toshiba electronic flash.

This was my first test of an electronic flash with a pack camera. It worked wonderfully if a bit overexposed. I don't think Noah appreciated it though.

The 250 is my first working pack camera. It was a flea market find which I've converted to use AAA batteries. It's a metal chassis version with a nice large coupled rangefinder. (Though not technically an Impossible film the Fuji FP series are the descendants of the original Polaroid films, so I'm including them in my project.)


Project 366 – Leap Day

2/27/12 -Playing with light, shadow, and the Fairlee
2/28/12 – Big Adventure – Sebastian and Chai make their annual pilgrimage to the vet. They were not impressed.

2/29/12 – Winter has finally decided to pay us a visit in time for Leap Day. It’s not much of a storm but it is pretty.


Project 366 – January 17-19, 2012

January 17 – Thermodog. The fire looks much more impressive in motion than in still life.

July 18 – How to Piss Off Your Cat in 4 Easy Steps

January 19 – Plum Island. Shot on the iPhone with Camera Plus and a Holga filter.

As I sit here and type, the dog is doing it again at my feet. She’s a Tennessee girl, and I don’t think she really likes this New England winter stuff.